Ah, Iceland. It's the land of fire and ice, Björk, and seemingly-unpronounceable volcanoes. The country's breathtaking beauty has put it firmly on the travel map and we're surprised this northern gem stayed secret for so long. Where else can you learn about Vikings, see whales, relax in geothermal spas, and ski all in one day? Read on for things to see and do in this land of strange contradictions.
On this day last year, we told you all about Valentine’s Day in Japan, and the related holiday of White Day. This year, we look to Denmark and the custom of gaekkebrev, or "joke letters", that are part romantic declaration and part riddle. While more traditional Valentine's Day traditions are now in vogue throughout Denmark, gaekkebrev are definitely unique, and we wanted to give them the spotlight today.
Christmas around the world isn’t always what you might expect. Just like well-known brands that take on a new flavor when localized for foreign countries, your experience with Santa Claus and holiday treats may vary, depending on where you’re traveling.
For example, how is an American fast food chain part of a Japanese holiday tradition? Why does Iceland have 13 versions of Santa Claus? And does Germany really hunt for the “Christmas pickle” in the tree each year?
Pack your sled, and let’s take a tour of some strange facts and fictions about Christmas around the world.
Despite Europe's economic woes, unemployment remains low in Germany and consumer confidence is on the rise. Germany is the powerful motor driving Europe’s economy forward. If you’re looking for strong purchasing power and 80+ million new customers, this Western European market is not to be overlooked.
To truly connect with German customers and get beyond winging it with your “Genglish,” you’ll want to invest early on in translation for this market. Among your top priorities will naturally be client-facing communications, such as your corporate website, marketing materials and product information.
Attention to detail will definitely pay off as you continually build and refine your German branding. In this post we’ll take a look at five pointers to help you develop your strategy and go to task.
On July 1st, the winner of the 2012 Euro Cup will be decided. Have you been following the action with over 150 million others worldwide? If not, some of your clients might be! But don’t worry, there’s time to consider your options.
Join us in the stands in the meantime for a look at the first Euro Cup to be hosted in Eastern Europe, how one company launched a successful 16-country marketing campaign around the event, and what the language of team slogans might reveal about the hearts and minds of football fans across cultures.
Traveling to Amsterdam soon? Want to blend in and look like a real kaaskoppen, sipping jenever and munching on Hollandse Nieuwe, or perhaps some Vlaamse friet and satehsaus? Read on for a taste of real Dutch culture from a real Dutch person. Guest author Aart Balk gives you a sense of what you won’t want to miss in the vibrant heart of The Netherlands (aka Holland).
Alessia Petrucci, Acclaro's Translation Director, oversees translation and language related processes as well as vendor recruitment. Originally from Tuscany, Alessia has a degree in Translation from the University of Geneva, Switzerland, and has worked in the translation department at Microsoft and J.D. Edwards before joining Acclaro. Antonella Masters, Project Coordinator for Acclaro's San Francisco office, is a Roman native and has worked for Chevron and BASF in Italy, as well as for the Istituto Italiano di Cultura Scuola in San Francisco.
Cocomero and anguria both mean watermelon in Italian, except Romans will be more familiar with the former term and most everyone else will know the latter. While this may seem odd, "modern" Italian is actually relatively new. Prior to the unification of the country 150 years ago, centuries of division and foreign rule (Austrian, Spanish and French) have meant both cultural and linguistic diversity, as evidenced in the development of the multiple dialects used all along the Italian Peninsula.
While we were all sipping pink wine this weekend, savoring barbequed tri-tip, taking a snooze in the hammock and generally shunning all forms of labor, the French were up to something quite different. Yesterday, the 5th of September, was a day of mass exodus in the hexagone (as the French refer to their geometrically-shaped country). Millions of impeccably groomed, sun-tanned French kids donning petit backpacks and perfectly shined shoes filed into the streets for their first day back to school. That’s right—millions. Back-to-school in the States is a season; it happens over several weeks’ time. In France, the vast majority of students head back to school on the same day, called la rentrée: the return, or the re-entry.
Even if you don’t speak a word of French, you can still get into the spirit of Bastille Day. The quatorze juillet, or la fête nationale française, commemorates the fateful storming of the Bastille (a prison for “enemies” of the monarchy) and the beginning of the French revolution. But more than the individual events that occurred on July 14th, 1789, the ideals behind this popular uprising are important to remember; many lie at the heart of current day rebellions.
Bastille day commemorates the victory of the voice of the people against tyranny, absolute power, injustice and oppression. It’s a celebration of three fundamental French values that we hope will be universal some day: liberty, equality and fraternity for all people.
If you think your business ventures will take you to France anytime soon, it’d be a good idea to study up on a few of the moeurs, or local customs, in advance. The more prepared you are to conduct yourself and your affairs with French flair, the better your experience in l’Hexagone will be. Here are a few pointers.
Dress the part.
Tie? Yes. Scarf? Absolutely. Though business casual is standard in many American corporations, French attire tends to be rather formal. A suit and tie with impeccably shined shoes are recommended for men. French women accessorize to the max, coordinating scarves, jewelry and high-heeled shoes with their business suits. Appearances in French culture are very important and can influence hiring decisions. If you are meeting with clients several days in a row, try to change a few elements of your outfit each today and keep a fresh appearance.
Promptness is highly valued in France, even if not always respected. You don’t want to be too early but arriving late is an absolute taboo.
Get your greetings on.
When you walk into a room, it is customary to greet everyone, either individually or with the all-encompassing “Bonjour Mesdames, Bonjour Messieurs”. If you don’t know someone, always refer to him or her as Monsieur or Madame/Mademoiselle: “Bonjour Madame. Au revoir Monsieur. Merci, Mademoiselle.” If you have a certain familiarity with your business associates, you may be on a first name basis with them. But when in doubt, it’s better to err on the site of being too formal. The French greatly value la politesse, so make extra efforts to be cordial and practice those good manners.
A nation's sesquicentennial is usually cause for festivities, fairs, and public reflection. Such was not the case for the Italian state, which celebrated its big 1-5-0 on March 17 of this year without a lot of fanfare. For instance, the day was finally declared a national holiday (the decision was made in February) — but nobody got the day off work.
Why would this be? Tim Parks takes a look at the reasons in a fascinating New Yorker piece. This piece got me thinking, as an Italian, about how a nation cobbled together from many different regions each with their own culture, speaking their own dialect, might find it difficult to forge a national unity that sticks.
First of all, Italy's geography discourages a sense of unity. It's a long way from Milano and Torino at the top to Palermo at the tip of the boot. The regions are divided by mountains — and in the case of Sicily and Sardinia, by the Mediterranean itself.
And for reasons that are both historical and geographic, Italy's many regions are at very different stages in their development, type of economy, cultural, and social structures.
They come from all over Europe, clad in Vegas- or Elton John-worthy finery, having made it through intense competitions in their home countries. The artists of Eurovision 2011 are here, and they are enthusiastically ready to entertain you with unforgettable songs. Songs like “Magic, Oh Magic,” “Piano Piano,” “Pump-pump,” “Diggi-loo Diggi-ley,” and “Bra Vibrationer,” to name just a few contenders from years past.
American Idol has nothing on Eurovision. For the past 54 years, it’s been the original star search. Eurovision is a massive love fest between a passionate audience and the talented and often zany performers they vote for by the millions.
This week, singers from 43 countries come together in Dusseldorf, Germany for the contest finals. Speaking a gaggle of languages, these remarkable musicians are citizens of Albania, Yugoslavia and everywhere in between, including Israel and Turkey. How did those last two make it into Europe? Well, if your country is a member of the European Broadcasting Union, you’re eligible to enter.
Eurovision is structured like the Olympics. Singers and groups don’t win – the country they’re performing for wins. Ireland has won the contest seven times, more often than any other country. Performers proudly wave their national flags onstage at awards ceremonies. Voters can actually phone in their votes before the competition broadcasts even start, and no one says they’re voting for a particular singer or group – they’ll tell you they’re voting for Italy, or that they always vote for Moldova.
Considered the oldest republic in the world, San Marino is a 23 square mile enclave that abuts the Apennine mountains in Italy. A cherished tourist destination for Europeans, San Marino has a flourishing economy and one of the lowest unemployment rates in Europe. A largely agrarian community of around 30,000 inhabitants, San Marino is a tiny Italian- and Emiliano-Romagnolo-speaking utopia, dedicating most of its precious acreage to olive and vine cultivation, bee-keeping, livestock and dairy farming. Look for the wines of San Marino: Brugneto and Tessano, red wines aged in cherrywood barrels, and Biancale and Roncale, still, white wines.
"A whole world in a small country", Andorra is another landlocked country nestled between Spain and France. The official language is Catalan, a romance language that closely resembles both French and Spanish. Roughly 180 square miles, and with a population of around 84,000, Andorra has been an independent territory since 1278, when it broke away from the Crown of Aragon. The government is a testimony to this country’s complex cultural heritage — both a parliamentary democracy and a co-principality, with co-princes Nicolas Sarkozy (French president) and Joan Enric Vives Sicilia (Bishop of Urgell, Catalonia). Touted as one of the safest countries in Europe, Andorra has the second highest life expectancy, perhaps in part thanks to its rich gastronomical culture. Some of the local culinary specialties include: Masegada cake, Andorran river trout, Brossat cheese, Curly lettuce with confit of duck gizzards and mushrooms, Mulberry jam, Mulled Cremat wine, Peasants’ stew or barrejada, Quince alioli and Wild boar stew.
The meeting’s over. You’ve got a little time to explore. It’s your chance to get out of that hotel room, get off the beaten path, and experience the culture, the flavor, and the people of Paris.
We’ve pulled together some of our favorite activities and places in the City of Lights, the ones many travelers never have a chance to experience. Of course, since it’s Paris, we’ve included more gastronomic delights than usual on our list. Next time you’re in town with a few free hours, check out the list below and go home with your best stories ever.
1. Start your day with the famous African hot chocolate and sinfully rich pastries at Angelina’s Salon de Thé in the first arrondissement. Get there before 11am to beat the lines — locals and travelers alike are magnetically drawn to the irresistible fragrance.
2. Wander the narrow, historic streets of Le Marais, Paris’s arrondissement of aristocrats. You’ll see medieval and Renaissance architecture plus loads of artisan boutiques, galleries, lavish squares, and unique French character.
3. Refresh yourself with a plate of andouillette, pommes frites, and a glass of silky Morgon cru Beaujolais at Ma Bourgogne, a wine bistro cherished by Parisians. You’ll find it on the elegant Place de Vosges, one of the loveliest squares in Le Marais.
Let's continue exploring the numerous values of the language of love. We know there are many Francophiles in the world. We understand that speaking French will help us network with them. We know that it will enable us to speak cuisine and wine fluently. We saw that French is spoken on virtually every continent and that French colonization planted the seeds so that it would flourish across the globe. Why else should we study the language of Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Christian Dior, Gerard Depardieu and Nicolas Sarkozy?
When the going gets tough, the humanities get going, or so it seems. One of the first degree programs to be axed by state universities during budget cuts is, sadly, French, the language of love. The State University of New York at Albany is a recent example. The board just discontinued degree programs in French, Italian, the classics, Russian and theater, according to a recent New York Times discussion. It would appear that the language of the poets and philosophers, of Proust and Flaubert, Balzac and Baudelaire, has become less appealing to a generation more enamored with languages such as C#, HTML and Java.
Given the shifting value system in American culture, is French even relevant anymore? In an age when more parents are placing their pre-schoolers in bilingual programs to learn Mandarin, does French still hold any value? Without hesitating, our response would be oui. Here are the first five of our top ten reasons:
In the first part of this blog entry, Advertising in Europe, Part One, we saw that English is understandably prominent in signage promoting tourist activities. We also saw that it is used in music advertising. So, continuing on our bike tour of Berlin, let’s see where else English is used as a “polyglot marketing tactic” in out-of-home advertising.
When you think of mass marketing with a bit of flair, you may also think food and beverage, especially alcohol. This multi-story scaffold mesh ad for Beck's beer features a German headline that is a play on words and roughly translates to: “Better a cool beer than a refined pilsner.”
The tagline is in English: “The beer for a fresh generation.” That’s a lot of expensive ad space promoting a well-known German brand partly in English, in Germany (Becks was originally owned by a local family in Bremen in northern Germany until 2002; now it’s owned by the Belgian-based beverage giant InBev).
Perhaps you want a little nosh with your beer? You may be tempted to get a German bratwurst, but then you see a poster for Subway, the American sandwich franchise.
Walk around parts of Continental Europe and you may think you’re actually in the States or the U.K. due to the amount of English used in out-of-home advertising (e.g. billboards, scaffold banners, bus shelters, subway and bus posters, etc.). Glance at this Berlin subway advertisement below and you'll notice the headline is actually in English. Is English really taking over the world and replacing European languages in local advertising? Well, yes and no. It really depends on where you are.
In France, where Francophile-centric laws dictate what must be in French (mostly everything), you won’t see very much English in advertising, even in cosmopolitan Paris. However, in northern Europe and Germany, there is quite a bit of English – everywhere. Many people, especially those of the last two generations, are highly fluent in English and use it on a daily basis for business. That said, most ads are not exclusively in English; they combine two languages to form a polyglot marketing tactic. Advertisers get attention by portraying their brand as cool and youthful, but at the same time throw in some native language to get specifics across.
Might be a bit tardy, but we thought to report that Europe's translation providers and other language teaching services generated $12bn in 2008, according to a study commissioned by the EU's translation service.
The language industry is growing faster than any other sector in Europe, the report found. Expansion is expected to continue at a rate of 10%, writes The Guardian.
Whew, it was a hard day at work and now it’s time for a beer at a local bar with your colleagues. Well, if you work at various European breweries, you can drink with your colleague at work.
In fact, until three weeks ago, at the Carlsberg brewery in Copenhagen, Denmark, you could drink the yeasty brew of your hard labor anytime during your shift. As of April 1 however, the brewery taps went dry and workers were restricted to only (!) three pints during lunch hour.
Much to the chagrin of the union, it wasn’t an April Fool’s joke, so they did what any sensible beer-loving-brewery-worker would do — they went on strike. Who suffered the most? More than likely beer consumers in Copenhagen who couldn’t buy Carlsberg beer for three days during the strike.
The strike is over (learn management’s point of view on The World), and the beer is flowing again for consumers, while all-you-can-drink water and soft drinks are flowing for brewery workers.
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